Valve manufacturer seeks efficiency through additive manufacturing

Siobhan Doyle

Stuart Billingham explains how additive manufacturing could be key to producing valve components.

In a dynamic industry such as oil and gas, staying ahead of the curve is not just a strategy but a necessity. Recognising the importance of innovation when responding to emerging challenges within the sector, valve manufacturer Koso Kent Introl (KKI) has installed a Renishaw RenAM 500Q Flex additive manufacturing (AM) machine at its Brighouse headquarters in West Yorkshire.

The system will help develop rapid parts and provide aftermarket support for its control and choke valve products.

Additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D printing, has evolved from prototyping to become a game-changer in the production of end-use parts. The RenAM 500Q Flex offers a high-speed, high-quality solution that KKI says aligns perfectly with the demanding requirements of the oil and gas sector.

Utilising a four-laser, 400W system, RenAM 500Q Flex can print various metals. The primary materials that KKI has selected are Inconel 625 and 718 with the further option for Titanium grades in the near future.

One of the key advantages of the system is its ability to produce complex components with unparalleled precision, something that traditional subtractive manufacturing cannot easily achieve. Traditional manufacturing methods may struggle to meet these demands, leading to longer lead times and potential quality issues.

KKI says RenAM 500Q Flex can now create these intricate components with speed and precision, enabling it to respond swiftly to market demands and customer needs. KKI is one of the first control and choke valve manufacturers to install its own AM machine to produce valve parts in this way.

Advantage of AM

Using AM to produce components in such an ever-changing and hazardous industry comes with many benefits.

The manufacturers can produce parts within days and the system can also produce designs for the additive manufacturers to be printed close to the end-user’s site. Having the technology closer to sites also eliminates transportation costs.

Furthermore, it is a cost-effective solution as it reduces the material required for each part and helps reduce the overall weight, and ultimately the overall price of the components.

Specialists can also undertake extensive testing of both parts and lasers to ensure all quality requirements meet or exceed international standards. Regarding service enhancements, experts can re-engineer valve components to improve the overall performance of the valves, and there is an option to produce other parts that are non-valve related.

AM can also reduce the environmental impact of the company’s production process. For example, the system could help separate and recycle the powder used and recycle the argon gas used in the production process.

KKI says the new machine it has implemented has increased its engineering capability overall. It uses a different design methodology via the new AM system to enhance valve designs and provide cost-effective solutions.

Stuart Billingham is with Koso Kent Introl (KKI).

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